Day 1

October 28, 2012

Hopi Salt Trail

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We awoke before dawn, ate breakfast, and divided up the communal gear between the nine of us.  It was a gorgeous day -- sunny and cool -- perfect backpacking weather.  The "trail" is really a misnomer; it is really just a route.  The route abruptly drops over the rim and is extremely steep.  Although we could see the Little Colorado River (LCR), it would take most of the day to get there. 

Beginning of Hopi Salt Trail. Start of Steep Drop into Salt Trail Canyon. Continuing Down the Hopi Salt Trail.

Bert, who has done this route 5 or 6 times, told everyone to be on the lookout for rock art that he had previously seen.  I don't remember seeing it the previous two times I had done  this trip, but we found it this time.  I'm sure I would have remembered seeing the insect petroglyphs.  You could easily miss it if you focus too much on your feet as you descend.  

We stopped for a rest break after about 90 minutes of hiking.  It was starting to warm up, but nearly all of our hiking today would be in the shade.  The route continues on the left side of the drainage until you get to the Redwall, where the route crosses to the other side and stays on top of the Redwall.  Remnants of an actual trail appear now and then. 

The trail passes by a large cairn made by the Hopis as they passed this way on their expeditions to gather ceremonial salt on the bank of the Colorado River.  An interesting description of one of these expeditions can be found in the book Sun Chief: The Autobiography of a Hopi Indian, edited by Leo Simmons.

Petroglyphs on Salt Trail. Rest Break. Ancient Hopi Trail Marker

We continue along the top of the Redwall, several hundred feet above the floor of the canyon, until we eventually come to a very steep slope that took us down to a point only a few hundred yards from the LCR.  The banks of the LCR are thick with Tammies.  We camped on and near the helicopter landing pad that was built by Fish and Game people doing research on the endangered Humpback Chub, which is now only found in the LCR.   The cold water released from Glen Canyon Dam has endangered several fish species. 

Boulder Field on Hopi Salt Trail

LCR With Big Canyon Entering on Left

LCR and Helicopter Pad from Salt Trail

The Little Colorado River water issues from Blue Spring, located about 7 miles up-river from Salt Trail Canyon.  It is heavily mineralized and nearly undrinkable.  Luckily we found some potholes a hundred yards or so up Salt Trail Canyon from our camp.

Leslie, Marcey, Chuck and Tom. Bottom of Salt Trail. My Home For the Night.

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